Netflix Remaking French Film ‘Les Émotifs Anonymes’ As Japanese Series With Korean Production Team, As Data Highlights Ongoing Asian Boom

EXCLUSIVE: Netflix’s latest original is a Japanese series adaptation of 2011 French film Les Émotifs Anonymes (Romantics Anonymous).

The project, going under the working title of Romantics Anonymous, will feature talent from Japan and Korea — two of the core countries at the center of Netflix’s strategy in Asia. Shun Oguri (Godzilla vs. Kong), Han Hyo-Joo (Moving), Yuri Nakamura and Jin Akanishi have been cast in the series, with Sho Tsukikawa (Yu Yu Hakusho), who’s also known for numerous romantic films, attached to direct.

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Yong Film — the Korean producer behind the likes of Believer 2, The Call, 20th Century Girl and My Name is Loh Kiwan — has developed the project as its first Japanese series.

Lee Ha Jun (Parasite) will lead the production design, including the central chocolate boutique set. Yang Jin Mo (Parasite) will serve as editor, and Dalpalan will work on the music. Production has begun ahead of a 2025 debut, with Yong Film’s Lim Seung Young the showrunner.

The story begins with a chance encounter between a man and a woman sparked by their mutual love for chocolate. However, both live with their own anxiety disorders: the man can’t physically touch others, while the woman can’t make eye contact.

Oguri plays Sosuke Fujiwara, the son of a major confectionery magnate whose germophobia complicates his new job at popular chocolate shop Le Sauveur. Han plays gifted chocolatier Hana Lee, who conceals her identity from the Le Sauveur members, except for the owner, and battles her own fears of social interactions. Nakamura plays a renowned psychologist and author who not only serves as Sosuke’s physician but also becomes a counselor to Hana, despite her own struggles with alcoholism and romance. Akanishi portrays Sosuke’s long-term friend, for whom Hana secretly harbors feelings.

“When I received the offer, the plot was tightly crafted and the project’s vision was clear,” said Shun. “An amazing cast and crew quickly came together, and I was very excited to start. Currently, we’re diligently examining the nuances and differences between the Japanese and Korean languages and do our best to make this work better. I look forward to continuing this enjoyable project with this wonderful team and deliver excitement and thrills to everyone.”

Han also pointed to the Asian collaboration, noting she was “especially delighted to be acting alongside our Korean team of producers, and the art, editing and music directors in this collaboration between Korea and Japan.”

“While we’ve faced some challenges due to the collaborative nature of this project, I’m truly enjoying working with the director, my co-actors and our staff. I’ve made many unforgettable memories,” she added.

Tsukikawa said: “We are searching for the best approach as we film. It’s an exhilarating process, and we’re committed to combining all our efforts to deliver something exceptional.” Showrunner Young added the project had been in development for the years, “through the hands of a Korean screenwriter, a Japanese director, and the performance of top actors from both Japan and Korea.”

Data dump findings

The news comes after Netflix’s second viewing data dump highlighted the continued global interest in Japanese and Korean content. Deadline analysis shows programs from the two countries making up 24% of the Top 100 most viewed TV shows globally by hours viewed.

Released last week, the What We Watched report for the July-December 2023 period shows total hours of Korean TV viewing hit 3.24 billion hours viewed, down 12% on the massive 3.71 billion viewed in the previous six months. It should be noted many Korean shows have longer run times than those from the U.S. or Europe — and this is partially reflected in Netflix’s new ‘Views’ metric. The numbers are still very sizeable, far outstripping most other countries’ content.

Topping the Top 100 by hours viewed was limited series King the Land, which took 630.2 million (and 33.2 million views). The next largest Korean title was Destined with You (222 million and 12.8 million views) followed by Strong Girl Nam-soon (195.7 million and 11.5 million views). Squid Game, the survival drama that created the appetite for K-drama on Netflix, charted in the 60s with 117.1 million total hours and 14.1 million despite launching three years ago. Overall, Korean shows accounted for 20 of the top 100 shows by total hours.

Netflix’s top brass famously pledged in April 2023 to spend $2.5B in the country over the following four years, and the latest numbers highlight why they’ve taken that position. Squid Game season 2 due to launch later this year, which is arguably the service’s biggest new title of this year.

Japanese titles clocked it at just under 800 million total hours viewed, including Yu Yu Hakusho season 1, Baki Hanma season 2 and My Happy Marriage season 1. Also included is season 1 of U.S.-Japan anime One Piece, which also accrued 71.6 million views — the most of any show on the Top 100 TV list. Chinese original Hidden Love also made the top 100 TV shows by total hours, clocking it at 115.7 million and 6.1 million views.

A few notes of the latest data dump. As well as adding in the ‘views’ metric — which is used for Netflix’s Top 10 charts — the streamer also chose to split its TV and film catalogs into two this time round, making comparisons more complicated. However, this still covered around 99% of Netflix’s library when combined and could be broken down into comparable categories, allowing onlookers to form a better picture of performance on the streamer.

According to the latest report, audiences watched 90 billion hours of Netflix content overall, on par with the first half of the year.

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